|Pennsylvania 7 year old Icelandic ridden
in curb bit, mild port 4 inch shanks and Wintec Western saddle in Round
pen, ring, pasture. trail by Rider: advanced with horses, beginner with
Question: My horse has begun to have a "hitch" in the right hind leg
when at a tolt. It is almost as if he is trying to strike off into a canter,
but it is "off" and only at the tolt. The horse walks evenly and canters
fine, just at the Tolt. He almost appears lame in the rt hind. Farrier
found a SMALL bruse in that hoof, but said it shouldn't be the problem,
Vet passes the horse as sound, but he did not see him under saddle. He
is sound in the field, just not with a rider. Any suggestions?
From Panelist Lukka
How frequently does this happen? If it happens constantly, it's a health problem, if it happens just once in a while (like if you ask for more speed), it might be something called vixl, which I'll write more about if it might apply. Vixl is when a horse mixes gaits in such a way that the horse tolts, but because of tension it does a mix and it feels like it is jumping an inch in in loose air for a split second an then it tolts again.
From Panelist Christine
Without seeing the horse I would tend
to agree with your vet and farrier that it is probably not a physical problem.
Does she "hitch" as much when you ride her out on the road or trail as
she does in the round pen? Especially if the sand is deep she may find
it easier to half canter to get around. For many horses it is less work
to do this than properly carry themselves at the tolt and engage their
hind ends. As the hindlend is less engaged and not pushing the horse forward
the rhythm is lost and the horse start into a smooth, rolling canter or
hitch as you have experienced.To
clean up the tolt trotting can help to get your mare more energetic and
free in her movements. Ask for different speeds at the trot and I would
work her more on the trail or a large ring where you are working on harder
surface than sand and not in a round pen. Slalom and serpentines will help
her become softer and more fluid, hillwork will help her develop more muscles
and strength in her hindend.When
tolting her watch to keep her energetic and forward, which will help keep
her in a clean 4-beat tolt.